Stealing Serenity Banner, title in the center, raised, arms of a white man bound in white rope on the left, cherry blossoms on the right

Welcome to Stealing Serenity, a stand alone, erot­ic con­tem­po­rary M/M roman­tic sus­pense. This novel­la is releas­ing one scene/day (week­days) on the blog ahead of pub­li­ca­tion. All chap­ters will be avail­able for free until the book is pub­lished, then they’ll be removed. If you sim­ply can’t wait, the com­plete ebook is avail­able now on the web­store. Paperback and Subtle Cover alter­nate com­ing soon. Expected pub­li­ca­tion: July 5th

July 13, Wednesday—8:45 p.m.

1276 Howard Ave, Apt 221

Safe house 4

Daniel shov­eled deliv­ery pad thai into his mouth, watch­ing a time-lapse of every­thing Kearin had done on his com­put­er over the course of the day. Daniel sought a par­tic­u­lar time-stamp from his records, a user­name and pass­word entry fol­lowed by no record­ing at all, a gap he couldn’t explain. Hours sped past in heart­beats, and more than once, Kearin returned to the pho­tos of the blond that couldn’t be used for his portfolio.

Then the time­stamp he need­ed approached, and Daniel hit his space­bar to con­vert the play­back to real speed. He watched Kearin clear his desk­top of tasks, ever obses­sive­ly tidy, and ini­ti­ate a new pro­gram. Here, a login mark­er Daniel didn’t rec­og­nize. Another few sec­onds for the screen to load and Kearin’s desk­top mir­rored itself on the screen.

The new, slight­ly small­er win­dow hov­ered iden­ti­cal­ly to Kearin’s main desk­top, from image to fold­ers to lay­out. Except it wasn’t quite iden­ti­cal. Daniel hit his space­bar again to pause play­back just as Kearin opened a fold­er. The file tree on the left stretched far longer.

Daniel Googled the pro­gram and tisked. Kearin logged into his home com­put­er from work. He used the desk­top remote­ly. Which meant Daniel couldn’t sneak into the com­put­er at work and hunt for clues unless he knew Kearin wasn’t on his PC at home. If Kearin tried to con­nect to the work machine, Daniel’s pres­ence would keep him locked out and remind him about dig­i­tal secu­ri­ty. That was the last thing Daniel want­ed to do.

He left the noo­dles to pull a bag out of the back of his clos­et. He need­ed a rather spe­cial­ized set of sup­plies to bug a machine in a pri­vate res­i­dence, and Kearin him­self lived in a con­do com­plex. More peo­ple made things more dif­fi­cult. He couldn’t just hide in the back­yard until folks went to bed. The roof how­ev­er… Breaking into a home while the own­er slept inside was les­son num­ber two in How To Get Caught 101, but with the gala in a week, Daniel had no time to wait. The anony­mous own­er of Serenity could be there, and he couldn’t pass up the oppor­tu­ni­ty to crash the par­ty. Based on Justin’s guest list alone, all the who’s-who of pho­tog­ra­phy col­lect­ing would be there, which meant Daniel need­ed as much infor­ma­tion as possible.

While pack­ing, he pon­dered Kearin’s pho­tographs of the blond that had­n’t made the port­fo­lio cut. Did he invite the mod­els home? If Daniel broke in, would he find Kearin’s new mod­el strung up and help­less in the liv­ing room? The idea of bondage wasn’t new to him, but he’d always passed it off as an inter­est too extreme for his lik­ing. What kind of man want­ed to be tied up and left, some­times lit­er­al­ly, hang­ing in rope?

But he’d nev­er con­nect­ed restraint to the idea of peace before. How could some­one just… let go like that?

Daniel sat at his com­put­er, both­ered enough by the ques­tion to run an image search. Porn. Hardcore, X‑rated, mul­ti­ple bod­ies. Erections. None of this looked like Kearin’s pho­tos. This was a per­ver­sion of what Kearin had cap­tured in his mod­els’ eyes. He paged through them, reject­ing most on sight.

But here was one—a col­or pho­to of a man bound on his knees, arms pulled back, arched on a steel table. He was hard too, but his eyes, they were calm like Kearin’s mod­els. Another, maybe a pho­to between pos­es where the pho­tog­ra­ph­er caught a rope-wrapped man ris­ing to his feet, hold­ing a fin­ger up to the cam­era as if to say “just a second.”

They were in the mess; he just had to dig a lit­tle. Photos care­ful­ly staged, cropped, and calm. Photos of an inner serenity.

Daniel thumbed his ris­ing cock as he sought out pic­tures of com­pli­cat­ed knot­work. Images that told sto­ries of chaos relax­ing under the order of ropes. He paused at a pho­to of a naked man bound to stand en pointe with the extra-long rib­bons of his bal­let shoes. He held one leg tied up with the foot braced against the inner thigh of the oth­er, his arms arced grace­ful­ly over­head. Daniel was cer­tain he held the pose under his own power—muscles in his calves and thighs flexed. The man’s erec­tion stretched pow­er­ful­ly up, dragged down to per­pen­dic­u­lar by a small weight that hung at the end.

It was beau­ti­ful and arous­ing. Daniel’s breath hitched. He admired the folds of rib­bon bind­ing the model’s leg up, the con­trol of bal­ance required to hold the pose, the erec­tion back­lit for emphasis.

But Daniel zoomed in on the man’s face. His head tilt­ed back at the cam­era, and his dark eyes invit­ed Daniel clos­er. They spoke of still­ness and relax­ation: things dif­fi­cult to come by in Daniel’s cho­sen line of work.

Absolute con­trol Daniel was well famil­iar with, but a whole sat­is­fac­tion of self; what would a thief know about just being if every minute could mean the dif­fer­ence between free­dom or cops and a jail cell?

So, it wasn’t the model’s flexed mus­cle or sub­stan­tial erec­tion that Daniel focused on, but the peace in his expres­sion. Daniel swal­lowed the noise of his cli­max, unable to relax even in his own bed­room. If Kearin could loosen him up like the mod­els in his port­fo­lio, Daniel want­ed to try it. He had to know what that kind of peace felt like. He did­n’t even care if Kearin did­n’t take his mod­els to bed, it was more than that. Could Kearin take him out of his own head?

And if it allowed Daniel more access to the con­do, so much the better.